Monthly Archives: April 2017

Not All of My Posts Can Be Winners

I know, 3.5 readers.  You’ve grown used to finding gold on this amazing blog every day.

But I’m not a machine, you know.  Not all of my posts can be winners.

All I can think of to say today is to follow me on twitter – @bookshelfbattle

That’s it.  That’s all.  Go have a snow cone and do something productive.

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Toilet Gator – Chapter 21

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Although Buford Dufresne was in his late twenties, his hair was still stuck in the early 1990s. No one had informed him that the mullet had gone out of style long ago and no one was about to do so no. When it came to his hair, it was all business in the front and a party in the back.

Even so, he managed to squeeze into the least stained white shirt, pants, and tie combo available and roll into the dealership, where he would hide in his office all day, ignoring any and all customers while he played video games.

And boy, did he have an impressive rig. Two massive monitors attached to a Nantuzasaki Game Tower, complete with a top of the line graphics card, dual core memory, solid state drive, and enough RAM to choke a horse. All of this processing power allowed him to run over pixelized prostitutes with the greatest of ease as he played the most violent video game ever, Car Thief Mayhem.

Knock knock. The Mayor’s fist pounded on the door. “Son?”

Buford sipped from a straw stuck inside a gallon sized cup of convenience store diet cola. He threw a few potato chips into his pie hole for good measure, then returned his eyes to the screen. He clicked a few buttons, causing his character to get out of a stolen car, bonk the prostitute over the head with a lead pipe, then steal all of her hard earned trick money.

The Mayor knocked again. “Buford? You in there?”

The young man clicked more buttons. His character got back into his stolen car, ran over a few pedestrians, and then ended up in a high speed chase with the police.

“Buford!” the Mayor shouted. “You playin’ with yourself in there!”

Buford sighed. “No, Daddy!”

“Then open up the goddamn door, son! I need to talk to you!”

“I’m busy, Daddy,” Buford said. “Come back later.”

Buford clicked a few more buttons. His character drove his car off a cliff and crashed into a helicopter. It was a horrific, fiery explosion that won Buford 10,000 points. The young man celebrated by opening up his soda cup, dumping in the contents of an energy drink can, then closing up cup’s lid and sipping away.

“Buford Bartholomew Dufresne!” the Mayor shouted. “You will open the door for your Daddy this very instant! Don’t you think for one second you’re too big for me to take you over my knee!”

Buford sighed. He felt defeated. He knew his old man had the energy to knock on his door all day. He realized the sooner he got the lecture that was coming his way, the better. He paused his game, got up, and opened the door.
“Buford,” the Mayor said as he stepped into his son’s office. “I got to talk to you. I heard you…”

The Mayor pinched his nose. “Jumpin’ Jesus H. Christ on a pogo stick! This room stinks! The last time I smelled a stench this bad I was digging a latrine in De Nang.”

The old man looked to the corner, where Buford’s trash can was overflowing with used fast food containers, some of them weeks old.

“Who are you, Little Lord Fauntleroy?” the Mayor asked. “You too good to empty your own damn trash can?”

Buford sat back down and unappeased his game. “Sorry, Daddy. I just been busy.”

“Busy killin’ your brain cells on them shoot ‘em up video games!” Buford said. “I never should have bought you that stupid thing. When the hell are you gonna get up off your fat ass and get out on the floor and make a sale?”

A little bit of drool pour out of the right side of Buford’s mouth as his eyes remained fixated on the screen. “I’m working up to it, Daddy.”

The Mayor took off his cowboy hat and dabbed at the top of his bald head with a handkerchief, removing the excess sweat. “You’re working up to it? Shee-it. And I suppose the Lord Almighty is workin’ up to the rapture. That’ll come first before you start earnin’ your keep around here.”

“Come on, Daddy,” Buford said.

“Don’t you come on Daddy, me, you little sack of shit,” the Mayor said. “Look at me, son. I’m Sitwell’s pride and joy. I got a business that employs over a hundred people. I’m a beloved mayor who makes important decisions every day. And what the hell are you doing with the one and only life that God will ever give you? Running over computerized prostitutes instead of doing something, anything, literally anything at all to better yourself.”

Buford mashed the buttons on his controller. His character respawned in front of a hospital, then stole a truck and ran over a contingent of little old ladies, leaving behind a trail of blood and broken walkers in his wake.

“I blame myself,” the Mayor said.

“Aww, Daddy,” Buford said. “Don’t gimme that speech about how you blame yourself again.”

“I will give it to you, boy,” the mayor said. “Your old daddy wasn’t around enough when you were growin’ up. I was too busy wheelin’ and dealin,’ chasin’ that green that I never took the time to teach you how to be a man. Now you’re like a man-child, a little baby stuck in man’s body. You’re more confused than a horny alley cat trapped behind a spay and neuter clinic.”

Burford moved the sticks on his controller. His character performed a drive-by on a nun convention.

“I set your momma up right,” Buford said. “She never had to work a day in her life. I thought she’d be able to take care of ya, teach ya how to behave all proper like but I was foolin’ myself. Old Lurleene was just a simple minded stripper, dumber than a box of rocks and hooked on anything she could snort up her nose or shoot in her veins. Hell, given all that, I’m surprised you didn’t turn out worse.”

Buford took a sip of his soda. “It weren’t all that bad, Daddy.”

The Mayor put his cowboy hat back on. “Son, will you let me be there for you now?”

The young man paused the game and looked up at his father. “What’s that now, Daddy?”

“I know it’s awfully late,” the Mayor said. “I’m a tired old fart and you’re almost thirty. I doubt I got many good years left. Let me teach you how to be a man, how to take care of yourself. You got to learn, boy, because one day your old Daddy won’t be around to take care of you and then what are you gonna do?”

Buford sighed. “I just don’t think I’m cut out to sell cars, Daddy.”

The Mayor sneered at his son. “Look, I’ll tell you what. I’m a silent partner in a number of business I have invested in town. One of those businesses happens to be Big Ray’s House of Funbags, the classiest titty bar this side of Orlando. I’ll talk to Big Ray. He’ll give you a job as a manager. You can squire around the girls and polish their titties with titty wax before they get on stage. You’ll be on your own, independent, doing something with your life.”

Buford shoved some more chips into his mouth. “I don’t want to do that either, Daddy.”

“Are you serious?” The mayor asked.

“Sure am,” Buford replied.

“Son, that’s a primo offer,” the Mayor said. “Oh Lord, you’re not one of them gay fellas, are you?”

“No, Daddy,” Buford said.

“Because you know son, you can tell your Daddy if you’re gay,” the Mayor said. “I don’t approve of that, but all them Democrats tell me I’m legally obliged to still love you even if you’re gay so I reckon I still will.”

“I’m not gay, Daddy,” Buford said. “I just don’t want to work in no titty bar.”

The Mayor took a deep breath. “Then son, what is it, pray tell, that you want to do with your life?”

Buford pressed some more buttons on his controller. His character drove a big rig through a department store.

“This,” the young man said.

“This?” the Mayor said.

“Uh huh,” Buford replied.

“You want to play video games?” the Mayor said.

“Until the day I die,” Buford said.

“Son,” the Mayor said. “How do you expect you’ll earn a living playing video games?”

Buford shrugged his shoulders. “I dunno. I’ll get real good I guess. Maybe I’ll compete in some video game competitions and earn some big money.”

The Mayor repeated half of what his son just said, just to make sure he was hearing correctly. “Compete in a video game competition and earn big money? Oh Lord, how I have failed you.”

“Daddy, I’m comin’ up to a real hard part, here,” Buford said.

“I made life too easy for you,” the Mayor said. “You never had to struggle. Never had to fend for yourself. Never had to fight for scraps. I gave you everything you wanted in the hopes that one day you’d outshine me and now look at yourself.”

“Blah, blah, blah, Daddy,” Buford said. “You gonna stand there and yap all day?”

The Mayor lost it. He picked up one of the monitors and heaved it against the wall, smashing it into hundreds of pieces.

“Daddy!” Buford shouted. “What the hell are you doing?!”

“Get out!” the Mayor shouted. He grabbed the other monitor and hurled it against the wall. Then he picked up the game station, tossed it on the floor, and stomped on it with his cowboy boot.

Buford grabbed his soda, then ran out into the showroom. His father quickly followed.

“Get the hell off my lot, you no good lazy, loafing son of bitch!” the Mayor shouted.

All of the customers and salesmen turned around to watch the scene unfold.

“Daddy!” Buford shouted. “Why’d you go and break my video games for?”

“So you’ll grow up, you dumb shit!” the Mayor shouted. “No son of mine is going to waste his life the way do for you! Offices are for people who do work! You do one goddamn day of work in your life and you can have it back! Until then, get out and don’t you dare come back here until you do.”

Buford looked around, confused and embarrassed.

“OK I’m sorry Daddy,” Buford said. “Let’s just cool down and we’ll talk about this at home.”

“That’s MY home, boy!” the Mayor hollered. “Don’t you step one foot back there!”

“Daddy!” Buford shouted. “You’re kicking me outta the house?”

“You’re damn right I am,” the Mayor said. “You can either go live with your whore of a mother or you can be a man, earn a living, and find your own place, but I aint gonna coddle you into being a big giant man baby for one day longer, you hear me!”

Buford hanged his head down low and performed the long walk of shame towards the door. “Yes, Daddy.”

“I mean it, boy!” the Mayor said. “You won’t get one more paycheck from me. Not one more hand out, not one more dime until you learn how to become a man. I know there’s something wrong with you, boy. If you aint gay, then it’s something you aint telling me and if you don’t tell me then you’re going to have to sort it out on your own.”

Buford lost it. He threw his soda cup against the wall and it exploded, sending drops of diet cola all over the nearby customers. “I aint gay and there’s nothing wrong with me!”

“There damn sure is something wrong with you, boy!” the Mayor shouted. “You’re not right in the head and any two-bit, half-ass shrink could easily see that from a mile away! Fix yourself and do it pronto!”

Buford threw his father the middle finger. “Choke on a ten foot dick and die, Daddy!”

“Oh!” the Mayor said. “That’s real nice talk! I bet you learned that from your mother!”

“I’ll prove you wrong, Daddy!” Buford shouted. “I’ll be richer and famous-er than you ever were!”

“Good!” the Mayor said. “Then I won’t have to worry about your stupid ass, anymore!”

Buford gave his father two middle fingers. “Fuck you, Daddy!”

The Mayor returned both middle fingers. “Fuck you back, son!”

The young man exited the building and slammed the door behind him. The Mayor looked around at all of the astonished customers. He straightened his tie.

“Sorry about that folks,” the Mayor said. “Tell you what? Ten percent off any car built during the Clinton administration for all your trouble!”

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Zom Fu – Chapter 62

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“Aaarrrrgggh!”

Junjie screamed as he came to his senses. He looked around. He was back in the Emperor’s throne room. The ghostly apparition of the Infallible Master stood before him.

“He…he killed my parents?”

The master looked away. “Yes, my son.”

“You knew!” Junjie shouted.

“I did,” the master said.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Junjie asked.

“Because a mind locked in rage can never be truly focused on a higher purpose,” the master said. “You already despised Dragonhand for turning your beloved Mei-Ling into stone. You would have lost control had you learned that he killed your parents as well. You would have fought with fury, rather than skill…with anger, rather than cunning. You would have…”

“I would have known the truth,” Junjie said.

“You would have died,” Junjie said. “Dragonhand would have defeated you. Of that, I am certain.”

Junjie stood up.

“I intended to tell you,” the master said. “After…all of this.”

Junjie wiped a tear from his eye. He leaned in to hug the master, put his arms passed through.

“I forgot,” Junjie said.

“I know,” the master said.

“Dragonhand never realized I was the child?” Junjie asked.

“An undead man’s brain is a swirl of confusion,” the master said. “Most of the time, Dragonhand believed he was his own man, separate from Longwei. That is true, for Longwei’s soul resides in Diyu. However, Dragonhand possessed Longwei’s brain and with it, his memories. At times, the creature was perplexed and puzzled, confident that he was a champion, free from a sense of right and wrong that a soul provides and yet, burdened by all the petty jealousy and aggrieved feelings that were stored away in Longwei’s mind. He claimed he was better than Longwei and yet, a part of him longed to prove to me that he was my best student.”
“Am I your best student?” Junjie asked.

“Well,” the master said. “I’ve never had a student who defeated a foe such as Dragonhand, so I’d say yes.”

A few seconds of silence passed.

“Don’t let it go to your head,” the master said.

“I won’t,” Junjie replied.

“And now you know my great shame,” the master said. “I could have destroyed Dragonhand all those years ago, at the very instant he became one of the undead. I could have saved everyone – the kung fu clans, the masters, the soldiers, so many innocent villagers – I could have spared so many so much pain had I just brought myself to extinguish him but I could not.”

“Why couldn’t you?” Junjie asked.

“Because every member of the Clan of the Sacred Yet Inscrutable Tiger Claw is my child,” the master said. “Their pain is my pain. Their suffering is my suffering. A father doesn’t stop loving a child just because he has done wrong. I loved Longwei too much to snuff out Dragonhand, but I realize now that I selfishly put my own emotions over the lives of so many.”

“I don’t know that I can blame you,” Junjie said.

“We all make mistakes,” the master said. “For centuries, the master of our clan has been called, ‘the Infallible Master,’ but I assure you, your master is very much fallible.”

The conversation between master and student was cut short by the sounds of the Whirlwind, struggling under the strain of a massive weight. He entered the room. Niu had come to and he was in his feet, but resting most of his bulk on the Whirlwind’s shoulder.

“Hergh!” cried the Whirlwind as he eased his hefty charge down onto the steps.

Once free of Niu, the Whirlwind choked and wheezed as he caught his breath. “It’s nothing but vegetables from hereon out for you, baldy!”

The Whirlwind collapsed on the steps next to Niu. “I will hurl myself from the highest cliff in all the world before I carry your giant ass around, that I can guarantee!”

Junjie and the master rushed to Niu’s side.

“My son!’ the master said.

Niu was speechless.

“That bag of filth took his peepers,” the Whirlwind said. “But I bravely carried his carcass all the way here, putting myself…and my back…in great danger.”

No one appeared to be all that concerned with Niu’s well-being. Junjie ripped a strip off of Dragonhand’s robe and handed it Niu. The big man held it over his eyes to sop up all the blood.

“Niu?” Junjie asked. “Can you hear me?”

Slowly, Niu nodded his head up and down. His voice was hoarse. “Yes.”

The master turned around. “Watch over my son, Whirlwind. Junjie, come, we must save the Clan of the Mediocre Yet Effective Club Bonk.”

As master and student walked towards the door, they were met by Rage Dog. His hair and clothing were sopping wet from rain. He held up a big, brown sack. Inside, a little boy wiggled around and whimpered.

Rage Dog gazed upon Dragonhand’s corpse. He thought about this development for a moment, then laughed hysterically.

“I suppose I should thank you for dispatching my master,” Rage Dog said to Junjie. “Now the Emperor’s brain will be mine!”

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Toilet Gator – Chapter 20

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With all the turmoil afoot in Sitwell, Mayor Dufresne was doing what any good public servant would do – figure out away to make more money. His Honor was up, bright and early on his car lot, getting prepped by a production crew he hired for his latest local television commercial.

“What do you suppose happened at the college last night, Mayor?” a makeup artist asked as he applied some rouge to the Mayor’s flabby cheeks.

“Oh, hell if I know,” the Mayor said. “These goddamn millennials, always with their drugs and their drinking, their sex and their social media. Rotting their brands instead of serving their community. Why, it’s enough to make a bonafide public servant like myself sick, but I carry on because I know that’s what the good lord would want me to do.”

The makeup artist rested his hand on the Mayor’s shoulder. “You’re very brave.”

“I know,” the Mayor said.

Carl, the Mayor’s top seller, walked on over. Carl was a good enough looking fellow, save for his wall-eye. At any given moment, it was hard to tell where exactly Carl was looking at.

“Just sold another one, boss,” Carl said.

“Hot damn,” the Mayor said as he slapped his knee. “Who’s the lucky sucker…er, I mean, customer?”

“Edna Dinkus,” Carl said.

“That old battle axe?” the Mayor said. “Shee-it. I’ve been barking up that tree for months, but that old dog wouldn’t hunt. How’d you seal the deal?”

“She wanted a car with less than a hundred thousand miles,” Carl said.

“Yeah,” the Mayor said. “Well, like I told her, I want to be the King of Siam and have throngs of bodacious babes tickling my nut sack but wish in one hand and shit in the other and see which fills up first.”

Carl had long learned to not try to decipher the Mayor’s strange sayings or “Mayorisms” as they were known about town. “I let her test drive an old Caddy. She liked it, but wanted one with less wear and tear. So I took it around back, cranked the odometer back to a thousand, told her it was a different that was only owned by a little old lady who only drove it to church and bingo! Sold!”

The Mayor slapped Carl on the back. “Aww, atta boy, Carl. Atta boy. You are the son I wish I had.”

“Thanks Boss,” Carl said. “That sure does mean a lot, coming from a pillar of the community like you.”

“Don’t mention, my boy,” the Mayor said. “Speaking of sons, where’s the one I wish I never had?”

“Buford?” Carl asked. “He’s holed up in his office.”

The makeup artist finished and removed the white paper smock from the Mayor’s chest. The Mayor picked up a martini glass and a lit cigar, both of which had been resting on a nearby stool. Together, Carl and the Mayor walked over to the middle of the lot, where a hole slew of video cameras had been set up.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with that boy,” the Mayor said.

“Aww,” Carl said. “Don’t be too hard on him, Boss. He’s just adjusting to his new position.”

“New position?” the Mayor said. “Boy’s been here for three goddamn years and hasn’t made a single sale. I have half a mind to have him tested. No one way of my golden sperms could have produced a boy who can’t make a sale. Hell, I could sell an outhouse to a man without an asshole but that boy couldn’t even sell penicillin to a discount prostitute.”

“He’ll figure it out one day, Boss,” Carl said. “Growing pains, you know.”

“Growing pains?” the Mayor said. “Shee-it. Boy’s nearly thirty years old and as far as I know the only pussy he’s touched is the one that belonged to his Momma when the doctor yanked him out of it.”

Carl snickered. “That’s a good one, Boss.”

The director of the commercial, a young man with a backwards baseball cap on, called out to the star. “We’re going to roll in five minutes, Beau!”

“That’s good,” the Mayor said. “Let’s get this show on the road. Time is money, you know.”

The Mayor took a sip of his martini, then a puff of his cigar. He looked around the lot. Juggling clowns were entertaining families. Strippers turned part-time models were striking seductive poses by cars as crusty old perverted men stopped to oggle. Lot workers passed out cotton candy and popcorn. Kids went nuts in bouncy houses.

The Mayor shook his head. “I’ve told that boy time and time again, ‘All this will one day be yours.’ And it just doesn’t get through to his pea brain.”

“Some people just don’t appreciate what they got, Boss,” Carl said.

The Mayor stared at Carl’s lazy eye. The old man moved to the left, then to the right. “Carl, where the hell are you looking?”
“At you, Boss,” Carl said.

The Mayor looked over to a nearby El Camino, where a model was standing.

“Are you looking at me or that model’s ass?” the Mayor asked.

Carl blushed. “Both.”

“Shee-it,” the Mayor said. “If that isn’t a super power.”

“It comes in handy,” Carl said.

“Yeah,” the Mayor said. “Still, it freaks the bejesus out of me. How many times do I have to tell you to wear a pair of sunglasses in my presence?”

“I forgot, Boss,” Carl said.

“Stop forgetting,” the Mayor said as he scratched his chubby gut. “I need my people to look presentable, you hear?”

“I hear, Boss,” Carl said.

The Mayor sipped his martini.

“Two minutes, Beau!” the director shouted.

“Damn it!” the Mayor shouted at the director. “You don’t need to count down like this is some kind of fancy newfangled nuclear missile launch, son! Just tell me when you’re ready to shoot!”

“OK, Beau,” the director said.

The Mayor used the sleeve of his white suit to wipe the sweat off his brow. “Goddamn it. I live a burdensome life, let me tell you. I gotta do everything around here. If only that useless, good-for-nothing son of mine would step up to the plate once in awhile, I could enjoy my golden years before I shuffle off this mortal coil.”

“I’m sorry, Boss,” Carl said.

“Not your fault, Carl,” the Mayor said. “You’re the wind beneath my wings and the apple in my dumpling. I don’t know what I’d do without you. But that son of mine? Shee-it. When I was his age, I was broker than a train hopping hobo. I didn’t have more than two pennies to rub together but through strength and hard work and determination, I became a great success. My Daddy didn’t have a pot to piss in to leave me. If my Daddy had left me a classy operation like this, I’d have jerked him off on command and been happy to do it.”

“I’m sure it will all work out someday, Boss,” Carl said.

“I hope so,” the Mayor said. “You’re a good boy, Carl. I don’t say that enough.”
“Thanks, Boss,” Carl said. “You know, I didn’t see my Daddy growing up all that much, so sometimes I look at you like you’re my…”

The director shouted, “Action!”

The Mayor pushed Carl away. “Get the hell outta my frame, ya’ googly-eyed, monster!”

The illustrious car salesman composed himself. He contorted his ugly face to form a wide-grin, right into the camera.

“Hooo, dawgies!” the Mayor said. “How y’all doin’ out there in TV land? Mayor Beaumont Dufresne of Beaumont Dufresne’s Slightly Used Car Emporium here. You know, people say my cars are slightly used, but I like to say they’re previously loved. Every car on my lot was treated with a gentle touch by their previous owners, the kind of gentle touch that you only see in one of them fancy French romance films.”

The Mayor stepped in front of an extremely old beige sedan. “Take this beauty here. Owned by a shut-in who never even drove it. Why, this baby is in such tip top shape that…

Whack! The Mayor slapped the hood of the car. The front bumper instantly fell and clattered to the ground.

The Mayor was furious. He looked around. “Who the hell put that car out here?”

The director waved his hand. “Keep going! We’ll fix it in post!”

The Mayor composed himself and returned his gaze to the camera. “Boy, it’s a hot Florida summer, folks. Hell, I just looked at a thermometer and it told me that it’s hotter outside than Scarlett Johansson’s behind. You know what y’all should do on a hot day like this? Come on down to Beaumont Dufresne’s Slightly Used Car Emporium. Have yourself a nice, cool glass of lemonade and talk to one of my highly qualified, intensely trained salesmen. Each one is guaranteed to make you a deal that’s right for you. No pressure. No gimmicks. Just straight up southern hospitality with a smile.”

Just off to the Mayor’s left, a model dumped a dab of white powder onto the back of her hand and sniffed it. The Mayor glared at her. She looked around with a surprised look on her face.

“Oh,” the model said. “Are we still rolling?”

“Post!” the director shouted. “We’ll fix it in post!”

“I’m fixin’ to post my foot up all your asses!” the Mayor shouted.

“You’re doing great, Beau,” the director said. “Keep going.”

The Mayor composed himself again. “Here at Beaumont Dufresne’s Slightly Used Car Emporium, we provide service with a smile and we aim to please. Why, if you’re not happy with your experience in the slightest way, I want you to bend my ear about it and we’ll get you fixed up in two shakes of a dog’s leg.”

The Mayor climbed behind the wheel of a used convertible. The top was down. The Mayor tipped his cowboy hat at the camera.

“Life is short, folks,” the Mayor said. “And you deserve to look good. Hell, even the ugliest ignoramus will look like a Hollywood star behind the wheel of this fabulous…”

The Mayor turned the key. The engine stalled.

“…behind this fabulous….”

The Mayor turned the key. The engine stalled again.

“I say, even the ugliest ignoramus will look like a Hollywood star behind the wheel of this fabulous…”

The Mayor turned the key a third time. Kaboom! The engine exploded. The hood flew twenty feet into the air before it crashed on top of one of the bouncy tents, causing the air to rush out of it. Lot workers ran over in a desperate attempt to save all the children inside. Flames and smoke chugged out of the engine.

“I can’t work like this,” the Mayor said as he hopped out of the front seat. He started walking towards the lot’s main office building.

“Come on, Beau!” the director said. “We’ll fix it in post!”

“You can kiss my cotton pickin’ ass in post, son,” the Mayor said as he gulped the last drop out of his martini glass. “I need a refill.”

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Ten Weeks of Toilet Gator Sundays!

The time sure does fly when you’re having fun…

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Daily Discussion with BQB – Child Actors Need Help

Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.  As you know, I am involved in a number of noble causes, ranging from the Oscars So Pretty Movement (we will not rest until Steve Buscemi brings home the gold) to finding a cure for Lightning Infused Toaster Pastry Toilet Death (we will find a cure).

I’m also going to throw my hat into a new ring.  Let’s do what little we can to help child actors.

I mean, there’s very little I can do as I am not a Hollywood mogul or anything.  But perhaps I can at least raise awareness amongst my 3.5 readers.

TMZ reports that at the time of her passing, Erin Moran, who played Joanie on Happy Days, was living in an Indiana trailer park.

That sucks.  And I’m not going to speculate about how she got there.  I have no idea about the journey that took her from child star to living in a trailer park.

What I have seen, in general, as a lifelong watcher of TV and observer of pop culture, is that all too often, child stars grow up thinking they’ve got it made, that America loves them as kids and pretty soon, they’ll be adults and they’ll crossover into being the lead in big time films, making lots of money and earning praise and adoration from legions of fans.

Sometimes, in the case of say, Leonardo DiCaprio, it works out that way.

More often, in the case of say, Macauley Culkin, it doesn’t work out that way.

This could be for a variety of reasons but I believe the number one reason is this:  that a kid was adorable as a kid doesn’t mean they are going to grow up to become a good looking adult.

Most kids are cute.  And some, just like those scrunchy faced pug dogs, are so ugly they’re cute…when they’re little.  Macauley Culkin nailed his role in Home Alone as a little boy who is wise beyond his years and manages to outfox two bumbling burglars.

But, adult Macauley Culkin as a leading man in a Hollywood film?  Maybe if the right film were to come along but otherwise…not so much.

Child stars becoming adult stars happens, but not often enough, and sadly, it all depends on looks.  Scarlett Johansson started out as a child star, appearing as a kid in films like Just Cause and The Horse Whisperer.  When she grew up, she turned into a hot babe and thus her career as an actress skyrocketed.

Meanwhile, who can even tell me the name of that little kid with the glasses in Jerry Maguire?

Sadly, Hollywood is a looks based industry.  That you were once a cute little kid doesn’t mean you’ll end up as a hot adult.  And sure, there might be some niche parts you might find but overall, many child actors have a tough time when they reach adulthood.

Some play it smart.  Some find a way to work in some kind of behind the scenes role in the entertainment industry.  The kid who played Chunk in the Goonies, for example, grew up to be a respectable entertainment lawyer.  Jason Hervey, who played Kevin’s older brother on The Wonder Years, became a producer.

Sure, child actors ought to try to see if their youthful stardom can translate into adult success.  But after awhile, if they’ve put their bait out in the Hollywood sea and no one’s biting, they need to be content that they had a good run and then search for a more practical way to make a living.

I know that’s easier said than done.  I can only imagine what a tremendous disappointment it must be to be on top of the world as a kid only to have no one return your calls as an adult.  You thought you had it made in the shade and now everyone is throwing you shade.  I’m sure that’s a depressing situation that can lead to epic sadness, humiliation, drugs, drinking, and so on.

I assume part of the issue is money.  Some of these kids have parents who manage their money well.  Others, not so much.  Perhaps there should be greater oversight as to what happens to the money of child actors.  Then again, it’s not like the government can worry about that what with all the other problems it has.

Perhaps some studio representative should sit the kids down when they are in their teens and say, “Hey, just because this works out today, doesn’t mean it’s going to keep working tomorrow.”  Get them working on an exit plan and on the path to supporting themselves in the event studios don’t want to give them the time of day after their 18th birthday.

There is one thing we can do as a society and that is, don’t bust on child stars who don’t continue with adult stardom.  Child stars who grow up, can’t find acting work, can’t find a behind the scenes job in entertainment, have every right to support themselves, so they should be encouraged to find any kind of ordinary, humdrum job that will support them without feeling embarrassment or shame.

In other words, if one day you enter your local burger joint and find your favorite child star all grown up and flipping burgers, just accept the burger and walk away.  No need to point or gawk or stare or write a snarky post about how that child star became a loser.  Maybe they aren’t a loser.  Maybe they are brave for getting up and carrying on everyday, supporting themselves in a regular way and learning to cope with disappointment and feelings of “what could have been.”

I have a feeling that public ridicule, i.e., “That child star just flipped my burger ha ha ha” is a big reason why child stars who can’t catch a break in Hollywood when they grow up don’t pursue traditional jobs to support themselves.  We normals can’t do anything to help adult ex-child stars get Hollywood jobs, but we can control ourselves and not be dicks when those ex-child stars seek traditional employment.

Anyway, that’s my 3.5 cents, 3.5 readers.

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RIP Erin Moran

Sad news in the entertainment world, 3.5 readers, as Erin Moran, who played Joanie on Happy Days and the spinoff, Joanie Loves Chachie, has passed away at 56.

Too early, 3.5 readers.  Too early.  As I said with Charlie Murphy, everyone should get at least 100 years guaranteed.

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TV Review – Mystery Science Theater: The Return (2017)

Lousy old time science fiction movies!  Snarky robots!

BQB here with a review of Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return.

Big time nostalgia factor for me here, 3.5 readers.  When the original MST3K film came out in the 1990s, my buddies and I watched it over and over again.  Oh, how we laughed and laughed.  We used to run around quoting lines like, “Science!  Men with screwdrivers!  Twisting things…and turning them!”

Ahh, you had to be sentient in the 1990s to get it.

Hmm…now I think I realize why I ended up as a lowly blog proprietor with only 3.5 readers.

Anyway, if you’ve never checked it out before, now’s your chance.  It’s back, this time with a series on Netflix.  Oh, Netflix.  Is there anything you won’t green light?

The premise is basically the same as the original.  A human is trapped in a space lair of some sort, forced by an evil villain to watch terrible old science-fiction movies for hours on end, supposedly as part of some study of how the brain operates while watching crappy movies.

The majority of the show is devoted to the human, Jonah Ray (Jonah Heston) and robot sidekicks Crow and Tom Servo, watching these horrendous films and busting on them with reckless abandon.  When you watch, you’ll see the film in your screen, with just three little shadows of the hecklers in the lower right hand side.

The movies are awful, old, poorly thrown together, devoid of any kind of decent plot, and usually suffer from a combination of laziness and a lack of special effects technology, because, you know, they were made a long time ago.  Also, they’re often foreign.  At any rate, there’s a strong chance that but for MST3K, you would have never have even heard of any of these films, that’s how bad they are.

The movie is broken up with Jonah and his bot buddies in various segments, doing interesting, wacky things.  Noted Internet nerds Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt star as Kinga Forrester and TV’s Son of TV’s Frank (crazy name), the villains who are keeping Jonah and the bots captive.

The segments are produced with low quality, low budget effects, assumably to mock the films that are being watched, but more likely because the studio didn’t want to shell out the cash.

I can’t quite put my finger on it.  It may be that when I was younger, I had a less discerning sense of humor.  Or maybe the original movie was great and then other versions, i.e. the 1999 show, the web show, or this Netflix show, are just attempts to recreate the glory of one very awesome film.

Maybe the 1990s were just a happier time where people weren’t as jaded and thus they laughed easier.

Maybe the big joke behind the concept was original then, but now it’s sort of played out.

I’ve only watched part of the first episode, Reptilicus, thus far.  In this one, the boys heckle what is essentially the 1960’s Dutch version of Godzilla.  It’s about as 1960s as you can get, complete with male scientists being surprised that women might know anything about science.

Much to my surprise, Erin Gray, aka Kate Summers aka Ricky Schroeder’s step-mom on the 1980s sitcom Silver Spoons, has a cameo.  I know.  I am ashamed of myself for knowing who she was.  Still, for a broad in her late sixties, she looks pretty good.  I would watch shitty movies with her anytime.

Overall, it’s a fun distraction and something to put on when you want to be entertained but don’t want to expend a lot of brain power.  It’s also a fun exercise to see what movies used to be and how far along they have come.

Moreover, it’s a tribute to the olden days, a time when networks would actually try to keep you entertained between commercials.  Local TV stations would often run a movie, then have some kind of weird character introduce it and talk about it between the commercials.  I mean, so I’ve heard.  I’m not that frigging old.

At some point we learned that the movies should not suck of their own accord and that a host shouldn’t have to keep the movie interesting.

STATUS:  It’s fun.  One issue is that the movies are, you know, long movies, so the episodes often run like an hour and a half.  That’s a big time commitment but hey, in true Internet style, if you put it up there, someone will check it out.  3.5 someones in my case.

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Toilet Gator – Chapter 19

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At sixty-three years young, Maude Fleming was Cole’s trusty right hand. She typed, dispatched, took messages, cooked, cleaned, sewed – she did it all. She was never without her old, tattered gray sweatshirt. She wore that mess for so long that no one was able to remember her wearing anything else. Meanwhile, she’d given up the battle with her hair a long time ago, opting to wear a blue baseball cap instead.

Maude was live streaming Network News One’s wall-to-wall coverage of the Countess Cucamonga murder and crocheting a mitten at the same time. Knitting mittens was one of her favorite pastimes. In theory, it made her happy. In reality, the mittens were useless. She had hundreds of pairs at home. Occasionally, she’d give them out as gifts but seeing as how she lived in Florida, no one really had any use for them.

A cigarette dangled out of Maude’s mouth. Pieces of ash fell into her yarn but she didn’t pay them any mind. She just kept working her needles.

Around dawn, an exhausted Cole stumbled through the door of the rundown Sitwell Police Department building.

“Long night, Chief?” Maude asked with her raspy smoker’s voice without taking her eyes off of her mitten.

“Ergh,” Cole grunted.

“That bad, huh?” Maude asked.

“Harumph,” Cole replied.

Cole walked on over to the coffee machine and fumbled with the filter. Maude jumped out of her chair, put down her mitten, and gently guided her boss away from the machine.

“I’ll get that,” Maude said. “You take a load off.”

Cole rubbed his bloodshot eyes and headed for his office. “Thanks.”

Walking into the Chief’s office was like stepping into a rustic hunting lodge. High up on the wall behind the desk were three mounts, the heads of a grizzly bear, a large antlered buck, and a lion that he bagged while he was on a safari vacation.

Cole put both legs up on his desk, then turned on his radio. The dial had been set on one and one station alone for twenty years – WRDNK aka, “The Redneck – Grover County’s Number One Country Western Station.”

As luck would have it, Cole’s favorite song was playing again:

“Will I drink myself to death?
Because without her, I got nothin’ left.
Will I ever rev my life up to full throttle?
I doubt it, cuz without her, all I got is the bottle…”

Cole opened up an old cigar box on his desk. He pulled out a good stogie, chomped off the end, then spit it into the trash barrel. He lit up and puffed away.

The Chief relaxed in his chair, allowing his personal sense of ennui to flush through his body. He’d learned long ago it was easier to embrace the sadness and let it run its course rather than try to pretend its not there like the rest of the world usually does.

Minutes later, Maude bursted through the Chief’s door. Her appearance startled Cole, because for the first time ever, there was a plastic tube up her nose. It was attached to a small, portable oxygen tank that the old lady carried by a handle held by her left hand. In her right hand, she carried a cardboard box with a notebook balanced on top.

“What the hell?” Cole asked.

“What the hell, what?” Maude asked.

Cole pointed to the tube in Maude’s nose. “What the hell, that!”

“Oh,” Maude said as she set her tank and cardboard box down on the Chief’s desk. “My doctor says my lungs are no good. I’m not getting enough oxygen, on account of all the smoking.”

Cole puffed on his cigar, then pulled it out of his mouth. “Then what the hell are you smoking for?”

Maude shrugged her shoulders. “What? I’m going to quit down? Screw that. The time to quit was twenty years ago. Now I might as well enjoy it until I die.”

Cole coughed and choked at the same time when he heard that news. “You’re dying?”

“We’re all dying, hon,” Maude said. “I can’t imagine I’ll be around a whole helluvalot longer with this condition but no one’s put an expiration date on me yet.”

Cole breathed a little easier. “Thank God.”

“Why?” Maude asked. “You’d miss me or something?”

Cole flashed a rare smile. “Nah. It’s just, who would get my coffee?”

“What I wouldn’t give to have a time machine so that I could go tell my younger self to give up smoking for good,” Maude said. The old lady and the young man then had a stare off, until Cole gave in and stumped out his cigar into an ashtray.

“Anyway,” Maude said as she flipped open her notebook. “Enough sentimentality. The phone’s been ringing off the hook. You’ve gotten so many calls that I have half a mind to ask for a raise.”

“That sounds like a good idea, Maude,” Cole said. “See if the town will give me one while, you’re at it.”

“Apparently everyone has flipped their lids over this Countess Cooky-Booky, Wooky-Nooky, whatever the hell her name is. The famous girl with the fat ass,” Maude said.

“Right,” Cole said.

“I’ve got a call from the Mayor asking for a status report on the investigation,” Maude said.

“Tell him to look for it up the deepest, darkest regions of his cavernous asshole,” Cole replied.

Maude jotted repeated a more diplomatic response as she jotted it down in her notebook with a pencil. “The Chief is working diligently on the matter and there are no new developments at this time.”

The old lady read another message. “The Sheriff would also like an update.”

“It’s also up his ass,” Cole said.

“The Chief is always happy to collaborate with other law enforcement agencies and will gladly update you when he has new information,” Maude said as she jotted the reply down.

“Come on, Maude,” Cole said. “Time’s a wastin’.”

“Tell me about it,” Maude said. “It seems like it was just yesterday I was able to shit without three different medications.”

“TMI,” Cole said.

“I’ve got a bunch of messages from wackos claiming to have tips on the killer,” Maude said. “One guy insists the killer is a space alien, but he sounded like he was calling from a bar. One guy says Elvis is alive and well and murdering people on the toilet. One woman who sounded like she was abusing one substance or another is sure that this is the handiwork of the government and that they’re trying to scare people into not using toilets. Something about a vast conspiracy against the toilet industry.

Maude tore out several pages of her notebook and plopped them on the Chief’s desk. “I don’t know. I’ll let you sort through all that B.S. I just take the messages.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Cole said.

“Thirty calls from various federal officials,” Maude said. “Lab technicians, forensics analysts, investigators and so on. They’re all calling to let you know that they’ll be setting up shop here.”

“Yeah,” Cole said. “The FBI’s taking over. Just give them whatever they want.”
Maude closed her notebook. “Umm…”
“What?” Cole asked.

“I couldn’t help but notice they all said that if you have any questions, you should refer them to Agent Sharon Walker,” Maude said.

“Yup,” Cole said.

Maude shook her head. “God. That’s not good.”

Cole clasped his hands together behind his head and leaned back. “Eh, it’s no big deal.”

“No big deal?” Maude asked. “You nearly drank yourself to death when she left. Why, if I see that dirty, no-good skank I have half a mind to…”

“Just pay her no mind,” Cole said.

“Pay her no mind?” Maude asked.

“Ignore her,” Cole said. “I already saw her tonight.”

Maude gasped. “You did?”

“Yeah,” Cole said.

“I hope she got old and fat,” Maude said.

“Nope,” Cole said. “Looks better than ever.”

“Damn it,” Maude said.

“It was hard seeing her again,” Cole said. “But I got through it. I was a professional. I listened politely to her FBI bullshit. I’ll soldier through her being her until this thing is over and that’s all there is to it.”

“If it were me I’d tell her to go to hell,” Maude said. “What with everything she put you through.”

“Nope,” Cole said. “I didn’t mean anything to her. I’m not about to let her know she means anything to me.”

Maude sighed – loudly and discernibly, almost as if she were asking Cole to ask her about her sigh.

“What?” Cole asked.

“It’s none of my business,” Maude said.
“You’re right,” Cole said. “It isn’t.”

“But women always know,” Maude said. “Men try to hide things, but women always know, and sometimes a woman will use that to a man’s disadvantage.”

Cole smiled again. Most of his smiles were reserved for Maude these days. “I will try not to let that shatter my faith in the female of the species, Maude.”

“Good,” Maude said as she opened up the cardboard box. Inside, there was a homemade cake. It appeared to be the product of several hours’ worth of work. The white icing had been meticulously applied, with blue trim around the sign. Written in red icing on the top were the words, “Happy 40th, Chief.”

“Oh shit,” Cole said as he glared at the cake. “I was hoping no one would remember.”

“Why the hell would you hope for that?” Maude asked.

“Because I don’t want to remember,” Cole said. “Jesus Christ, Maude, I can remember being a young buck like it was yesterday. Thought I’d be on the top of the world by now but here I am, babysitting my ex-wife while she investigates the murder of some girl with a fat ass.”

Maude laughed. “Well, you know they say life isn’t about the destination. It’s about the journey.”

“Yeah,” Cole said. “Find the guy who put that in a fortune cookie and tell him to…”

“Shove it up his ass?” Maude said. “Got it.”

Cole looked at the cake again. “It’s very nice, Maude. Thank you.”

Maude headed for the door. “Yeah, well. Taking care of you is a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. I’ll get your coffee.”

Cole took another peek at the cake. As he looked closer, he noticed little pieces of cigarette ash in the frosting. He chuckled, then closed the box. It didn’t matter. He wasn’t going to eat it anyway. The fewer reminders of his forty years on the planet, the better.

Along the right hand side of the wall, there was a tall metal gun cabinet. Cole found the key for it on his ring and opened it. Shotguns. Rifles. Handguns. He was well stocked.

He reached into the bottom of the cabinet and pulled out a bright orange box. He set it on his desk and unlocked it as well. He then opened it up to reveal one of the biggest revolvers on the planet, the Angry Barracuda .500 Caliber. Better known as, “the Hunter’s Helper,’ it was heavy, but the weight felt good in Cole’s hand. The barrel was long. The bullets were enormous.

The piece had been designed as a backup sidearm for hunters whose rifles had jammed. No one wants to be staring down an angry beast with a bum rifle and not another gun to reach for. The force it brought was so powerful that it knocked Cole on his ass the first time he used it at the local gun range years earlier.

“Oh boy,” Maude said as she returned with her oxygen tank in one hand and a mug of coffee in the other. “You’re playing with your big gun. This can’t be good.”

“Everything’s fine,” Cole said. “It’s just at times like these, I feel like shooting something.”

“Well,” Maude said. “As long as you’re not drinking anything, it’s fine by me.”

Maude left the office. Cole put the gun back in its box, then locked it up in the cabinet. He returned to his chair and rolled up the right leg of his pants to reveal a prosthetic leg. The flesh of his real leg ended just below the knee. The stub was secured in a metal socket. The prosthetic itself was metal connected to a hard plastic foot inside his shoe.

Cole removed his stub from the socket and propped the prosthetic up against his desk. He then rubbed his aching knee.

The Chief was exhausted after a long night. He closed his eyes and was about to drift off to sleep when his cell phone rang. He pulled his old flip phone out of his pocket.

“Hello?”

“Cole!” came the surly voice of Mayor Dufresne. “Why in tarnation is my town all over the news? You think anyone’s gonna wanna do business in a town where people are getting killed while they’re sitting on the shitter?”

“Wrong number,” Cole said.

“Don’t you wrong number me, you son of a bitch,” the Mayor said. “Now I wanna have a big pow wow with Floyd and see if we can’t nip this thing in the bud. I been calling you at the station all night and I demand to know why you haven’t been returning my phone calls. I own your ass, Mister, and I will…”

“No hablo Ingles, Senor,” Cole replied. Flip. In that moment, Cole decided that he would never upgrade to a smart phone. Not only did he not need all of that Internet mumbo jumbo clouding his mind, but it was much more satisfying to hang up on an unwanted call with a flip than a swipe.

The land line on Cole’s desk rang this time. It was Maude.

“Chief? Got the Mayor on the line. Should I put him threw?”

“No,” Cole said. “Tell him he’s an asshole, then slam the phone down hard.”

“You’re not in because you’re working diligently on important law enforcement matters. Got it. ” Maude and Cole hanged up.

Ring! Another call on Cole’s desk phone. “Hello?”

“Chief?” Maude said. “Got a reporter on the line from Network News One. She identifies herself as quote, ‘A Hot Ass Blonde Chick with Big Titties,’ unquote. She wants to know if you’ll be interviewed on air.”

“Tell her that her titties look lopsided,” Cole said.

“You’re not available at this time,” Maude said. “Got it.”

Click.

Cole leaned back in his chair. He cranked his radio loud. A new song was on. It wasn’t his favorite, but it was about a man who turned to drinking after his wife ran out on him so it worked in a pinch.

“Drownin the pain away,
Cuz I didn’t get to see my baby today.
Yeah, I’m drownin’ the pain away.
Oh, there’s gotta be a better way…”

Ring!

“Hello?”

“Chief,” Maude said. “It’s Rusty. He’d like a word. He sounds mad.”

“Tell him to blow it out his ass,” Cole said.

“The Chief is indisposed,” Maude replied. “Got it.”

Click.

Cole closed his eyes again.

Ring!

“Damn it!” Cole shouted out as he picked up his phone. “What?!”

“Well, hello to you to, Mr. Snooty Britches,” Maude said.

Cole rubbed his face. “Sorry Maude. Who is it now?”

“Bitchface McGee,” Maude said.

“Who?” Cole asked.

“Sharon,” Maude said.

“Oh,” Cole said.

“She wants to know if she can recruit some of your officers to canvass the college campus for clues,” Maude said.

“Sure,” Cole said. “As many as she needs.”

There was a brief pause.

“What?” Maude asked. “No snappy comeback?”

“No,” Cole said.

“You don’t want to tell her to blow anything out of her ass?” Maude asked.

“Nope,” Cole said.

Another pause.

“I’m worried about you,” Maude said.

“Don’t be,” Cole said.

“Your pushing all your emotions about her down and that’s going to get you started drinking again,” Maude said.

“Not gonna happen,” Cole said.

“So why the kid glove treatment with Miss Prissy Pants?”

Cole sighed. “Because it accomplishes nothing and I’ve wasted as much sorrow as I can on her. She’s a grown woman. She wanted out. She got out. End of story. I’ll treat her like any other suit the Feds want to jam down my throat.”

“Hmm,” Maude said. “OK then.”

Click.

Cole was frazzled. In the lower left hand drawer of his desk sat a flask, half-full with a perfectly aged scotch. It had been sitting there untouched for eight years. For a long time, Cole thought about throwing it away, but after awhile, he grew so proud of his ability to have it around without drinking it, that he just kept it.

But now, he figured he was cured of alcoholism. Surely, one little sip to calm his nerves wouldn’t hurt. He opened the drawer and unscrewed the top of the flask. Slowly, he raised it up to his mouth and then…

Ring!

Cole lowered his hand. He took a deep breath, then answered the phone. “Hello?”

“The Mayor again,” Maude said.

Cole’s face turned bright red as he shouted, “Tell him to blow it out his ass!”

Slam! Cole bashed the phone down on his desk. He looked at the flask in his hand and strongly considered guzzling the whole thing. Instead, he opened up the cardboard box and poured the booze all over the grim reminder that he’d been around for forty years. He then threw the flask and the cake into his trash can.

He needed a jolt. A took a big swig of the coffee Maude had brought him, only to choke and sputter. He coughed and coughed until one of Maude’s cigarette butts popped out of his mouth.

“Son of a bitch,” Cole said.

It was clear there was no peace to be had in his office. Cole reattached his leg and rolled down his pants leg. He returned to his gun cabinet and retrieved his orange gun box. He opened up the door and stormed past Maude.

“Where are you off to?” Maude asked as she worked on her mitten.

“I need to shoot something,” Cole said. “Hold my calls.”

“Will do, Chief,” Maude said.

 

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Daily Discussion with BQB – Should College Tuition Be Free?

Happy Saturday 3.5 readers.

New York state recently became the first state in the nation to offer free tuition at all state schools.  You can even move to New York and get free tuition but the only catch is that you must remain in New York for five years after graduation.  If you leave before that, you have to pay the tuition back.

In other words, New York will give you free education, but the state government wants you to contribute to the state’s economy for five years.

It’s a good deal I wouldn’t have turned down at 18.  Hell, if you’re 18 and have yet to sell your parents on the move to New York dream, this might do it.  And five years after is fair.  At worst, you have to stay there five years.  If your dream job in another place comes your way in less than five years then hey, you’ll at least have your dream job that will allow you to pay the tuition back.

Let’s discuss the pros and cons of free tuition, 3.5 readers.

PRO:  College has become ridiculously expensive.  Meanwhile, the economy has been flushed down the crapper.  While in the past, a college degree meant a guarantee of a good job, today’s graduates are competing in a world where everyone and their uncle has a degree and there are fewer jobs to go around.

In short, college has never been more expensive while a college degree has never been less relevant.  Experience is what matters and if students can skip that job at McDonald’s to pay for college, then they can volunteer and intern at places relative to their true passion.

CON:  Holy shit, the nation is 19 trillion dollars in debt already.  Are we just going to keep borrowing and borrowing like some dumbass who can’t say no to a pre-approved credit card until this massive Ponzi scheme we call the American economy goes belly up?

Sure, I sympathize with the plight of the college student.  However, don’t be convinced that the politicians and academic types got together to do a great, noble thing here.

A cynic, like myself, might note that higher education, has for years, been a Ponzi scheme of sorts.  For years and years, those in charge of academia said, “Hey, we need a statue of some guy that used to teach here.  Raise tuition!  We need a big water fountain, we need fancier buildings, a new sports stadium, more computers, more this, more that, Professor So and So needs to be paid to take off three years so he can write a ten thousand page article that no one will read about the mating habits of the East Indian fruit bat!  No problem!  We’ll just raise tuition!”

And so, academics just got into the bad habit of tacking the price of whatever they wanted onto the backs of the students they proclaim to love and care about.  And for a long time, that worked.  College degrees meant something.  Graduates got jobs.  They paid off their student loan debt.  The college gave students legitimacy, i.e. the right to say “I studied this field and now I deserve to work in it.”  And then when the students got jobs, they paid the debt on the loans they took out for the privilege.

That scheme doesn’t work anymore.  Now every waiting room for an open job is packed with like a hundred applicants, many with several more years worth of experience than the recent graduate.  When people with twenty years of experience are looking for work, how can a twenty year old compete?

Graduates aren’t finding those good jobs anymore.  Many aren’t finding any jobs.  And so, they end up on Mom and Dad’s basement couch, saddled with student loan debt, wondering when their dreams will come true.

Where’s my point?  My point is, the politicians who tanked the economy and the academics who never found something they didn’t want to charge off onto the backs of the students didn’t get together and say, “Hey, let’s fix this!  The politicians should make the economy better so graduates can find jobs and the academics should tighten their belts so that college is cheaper.”

Nope.  The politicians will still screw up the economy.  The academics will still build glorious water fountains in their honor and pay Professor So and So to go study the mating habits of the East Indian fruit bat for three years.  They just found a way to preserve the system.  Now, instead of charging it all off on the student, they’ll charge it all off to the government instead.

True, you’ll still be charged an arm and a leg if you go to a big name fancy school.  But the state colleges being free will at least mean there will always be a place where academics can generate all kinds of crazy expenses and they’ll still be paid for.

Meanwhile, state college students won’t have to pay for their degrees, which is fair, because no one is doing anything to fix the economy that renders so many college degrees useless these days.

Sorry.  I channelled Uncle Hardass.

Free tuition.  What say you, 3.5 readers?

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